Deal is ‘extremely cautious’ about revival of religious liberty proposal

Gov. Nathan Deal.   BOB ANDRES  / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Gov. Nathan Deal. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

He didn’t pronounce it dead on arrival, but Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday he was wary of the “religious liberty” measure that came roaring back to the statehouse this week.

“We have to be extremely cautious,” said Deal. “We have benefited from the actions I took last year, and we’re still continuing to see states who have gone in other directions suffer the consequences – namely North Carolina.”

State Sen. Marty Harbin brought the debate over the legislation back to the forefront on Tuesday when he introduced a one-page, 18-line proposal that would require the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to apply in Georgia.

This measure is significantly scaled down from the eight-page legislation that Deal vetoed last year, in part to make it harder for the governor to oppose. After all, while a member of Congress he voted for the federal legislation – a fact Deal brought up unprovoked in a brief interview.

“I think it’s only fair that we give it due consideration,” he said. “Quite frankly, in 1993 when the federal act was passed we voted for it, as did most people in Congress.”

A 1997 Supreme Court ruling found that part of the law didn’t apply to the states, and dozens of legislatures have since passed their own versions to cover actions by state governments.

“There is certainly something worth looking at. But there have been so many negative connotations with what have gone on in other states – Indiana, North Carolina,” Deal said. “It sounds simple on its face, but sometimes things that appear simple don’t work out that way.”

He added that he’s open to meeting with Harbin and other supporters as the legislation winds through the statehouse.

“I don’t think anyone wants our state to be put in a bad posture as a result of this kind of legislation. But I’m willing to meet with the author of the legislation and delve into what it does and doesn’t do. And I’ll keep an open mind until I have a chance to do that.”

Reader Comments 0

100 comments
Rebecca Carlin Turner
Rebecca Carlin Turner

Republicans like Deal only want to avoid a "religious freedom" law for financial reasons, not moral ones. Still, it might get him to do the right thing.

Brandy Tucker Lmt
Brandy Tucker Lmt

Exactly. For once he's using his brain and trying to keep the economy going.

Judy Karp
Judy Karp

Don't do it Governor. This is a Bill allow discrimination under the guise of freedom of religion. There is no reason for it with all that we have to do to make GA a better place.

Samuel Patton
Samuel Patton

Suffered consequences? Would that be like Disney leaving Florida because of their RFRA? O wait a minute, I was down there a little while back, they are still there!

Bernice Bacon
Bernice Bacon

Do not sign this and allow government sanctioned bigotry!! We as a people are better than this. Tolerate or walk away are the only actions needed, and those don't need to be legislated.

John Weeks
John Weeks

Consequences are to be expected if you stand for something worth standing for even in the best of times. Given that this bill is a virtual mirror of the federal bill that has withstood court challenge, I find his stance at the moment something less than credible.....to be far more polite than it deserves.

Nanette Martinez
Nanette Martinez

We don't need this bill. The constitution already covers freedom of religion.

Beverly Spurlin
Beverly Spurlin

we don't care about how many people will leave our state. Put God back into Georgia. We will survive. Put your trust in God, he will take care of your needs.

Beverly Spurlin
Beverly Spurlin

The world discriminates against Christians everyday. But Jesus loves everyone, but unfortunately the world don't love God.

Emily Judd
Emily Judd

Tell me where Christ would have discriminated against ANYONE of different religions, nationality, or sexual orientation. No where did Jesus EVER mention discrimination against any of these.

Gigi Allen
Gigi Allen

Please veto!! I like Atlanta and my job. We represent inclusiveness not hatred and bigotry. Why do people continue with this year after year? Just look the failure of NC because of the hateful bathroom bill. VETO!!!

Elizabeth Chapman
Elizabeth Chapman

WHO IS Your GOD, Gov. Deal? I Appreciate All You have done for Georgia, Businesswise... But HONOR The Lord God Jehovah and HE Will Bless Us All Even Moreso. Foreign Religions and the LGBT group has been gaining Rights Over and Against the Christian Faith that Fought for and Founded this Nation... Change the Amosphere of Political Favoritism, and the Problem Might just go away? The LGBT Agenda is to Destroy the Freedom of the Christian Faith's Expression because they are in Direct Conflict as surely as the Muslim's Sharia Law is with our U.S. Constitution! Be Wise, Nathan Deal.

Emily Judd
Emily Judd

LOLOLOL Name a way the LGBTQ agenda has infringed on YOUR rights and freedom of expression? Oh you mean your right to not treat people with kindness, acceptance, and love thy neighbor. Really? How Christian of you.

Elizabeth Chapman
Elizabeth Chapman

Emily Judd How IGNORANT of YOU! How many Dying AIDS Patients have YOU Held in your Arms with their Viral Loaded Blood and Tears on YOU? LOVE Takes Action, talk is Cheap!

Paul Abbott
Paul Abbott

Deal is a sellout, a RINO and a coward!

Mark Cosby
Mark Cosby

Kill it, Deal. Bury that unconstitutional stupidity. You've brought billions of dollars in film production to Atlanta. Drag these mouthbreathing fools out of the dark ages.

Edward C Tracey
Edward C Tracey

Again, when will those companies pushing homosexuality stop selling their cars in muslim countries?

Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson

As they should be. Go to church. Treat everyone that comes into your place of business as you would want to to be treated. That what your lord and savior would expect.

Rob Danner
Rob Danner

Who cares about the NFL and the NCAA?

Shaye Breed
Shaye Breed

Holy cow, I agree with him. ('Cuz, you know, facts and stuff.)

David Meyer
David Meyer

I despise Nathan Deal. He is totally owned by the GA Chamber of Commerce. I will be glad to see him go.

Mike Lindsey
Mike Lindsey

Sick children can't get access to cannabis oil yet we're talking about RELIGION...

Rod Miller
Rod Miller

Crusty old RINO stands for nothing .... Disappointing but not surprising

Patricia Baker Charles
Patricia Baker Charles

He know it will hurt this state. I am a christain but I don't think we need this bill! It is one reason Trump is in the whitehouse, some think they need more and more protection. I think they should pray and think God for what they already have!

Pat Moore
Pat Moore

Can't wait until the next election to vote Governor Deal out of office!

Marsi Thrash
Marsi Thrash

1975 called and Carol Brady wants her hair back

Shedrick Ford Jr
Shedrick Ford Jr

You are talking about messing up the state economy extremely bad, if that Governor signed that bill which he will not, Atlanta Falcon owner Arthur Blank's, will be extremely disappointed for the new Mercedes-Benz stadium the Super Bowl supposed to come to Atlanta along with college football finals, the NCAA an NFL will resend that order.

Phil Woodhall
Phil Woodhall

Don't become the Big Chicken in the #1 poultry state. Get rid of this bill or veto it.

Jenny Wregglesworth
Jenny Wregglesworth

Please don't succumb to the pressure from your own party, Governor Deal. I, and many other Georgians, do not want the religious freedom bill passed and stand behind your previous decision to veto it 100%.

Lorraine Roberts
Lorraine Roberts

He needs to veto this bill, just as he did the last one.

Lola Shireman
Lola Shireman

Why are American Christians persecuted for following their faith!! But, the government will break their necks to make sure that the religion of Islam is never offended or denied any of their rights in the US!!! If a Muslim bakery refused to bake a cake for a gay couple nothing would be done!!

Jeff Hodges
Jeff Hodges

That's easy for you to say when it's not your business in jeopardy.

Greg P Bates
Greg P Bates

Please talk something that matters. This is about equal opportunity under the law. It's about access to healthcare, inheritance rights, adoption rights, immigration rights, and just plain 'goodwill' for us in the LGBT community. By making it about baking a cake trivializes it greatly.

Emily Judd
Emily Judd

James Devere Unfortunately, the LGBTQ individuals are continually discriminated against. I agree that they were born with the same rights, but they are not given the rights. They are fighting to ensure the same rights you have, without the discrimination.

Brian J. Huff
Brian J. Huff

Sure they have. The US Constitution already provides these protections. GA lawmakers need to tackle real agenda and not popular opinions. If not make them every other year like Texas.

Karl M Anderson
Karl M Anderson

If they pass it I wonder if the NFL will pull the Super Bowl hosting gig from the state.

Len Craft
Len Craft

If all they do is pass a law mirroring the current federal law then other than adding a second layer of courts to any lawsuit it shouldn't be a big deal. If they try once again to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community then it'll be the same story as last year.

Larry Eldon Fowler
Larry Eldon Fowler

Nathan Deal is an Obama clone. Nathan Deal only supports anti Christian agendas. Nathan deal is pro Muslim refugee resettlement, pro gay and pro greed.

Larry Eldon Fowler
Larry Eldon Fowler

Patricia Baker Charles , yes. I am Christian. There's nothing wrong with name calling. It gets the point across. I hope Nathan Deal reads my comment and repents for his part in destroying Christianity before it is too late for him. I worry about Mr Deal's eternity.